BBC: Disability Aids

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 9th February 2018.

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Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of BBC content that includes audio description; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

A digitally inclusive society is a key priority for the government, and everyone should be able to enjoy and exploit the benefits and convenience afforded to able-bodied people.

Ofcom is required under the Communications Act (2003) to set targets for the proportion of BBC output that should be audio described. Currently BBC channels (excluding BBC Parliament) are required to audio describe 10% of their programme content (except in the case of BBC News). Ofcom publishes reports on the provision of access services. The latest report shows that BBC channels comfortably exceeded their targets:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/accessibility-research/tv-access-services-2017

As Ofcom’s report shows, broadcasters in the UK already provide a high level of subtitling, signing and audio description which is available for scheduled programming, but there is still room for improvement. Through the Digital Economy Act 2017, the provision of access services (subtitling, signing and audio description) is being extended to on demand services. Ofcom is in the process of consulting to determine the requirements that providers of on-demand programme services will be required to meet which will then be set out by the Secretary of State.

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